The Expert Guide to The Best Things to do in Beaufort, NC

Are you searching for the perfect day trips for your Emerald Isle vacation? The nearby town of Beaufort, North Carolina, is one destination you won’t want to miss! Located just 30 minutes from our beautiful island, the things to do in Beaufort, NC, are some of our favorite adventures! If you would like more suggestions for things to add to your itinerary, browse our expertly curated Things to Do Page. You’ll get the inside scoop on the best dining, entertainment, and attractions on the Crystal Coast!  

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The Best Things to do in Beaufort, NC, for Every Traveler 

No matter the season, there are always plenty of ways to enjoy the Crystal Coast, and with these fantastic things to do in Beaufort, NC, the whole family is sure to have the time of their lives!   

For the Adventurer  

  • Shackleford Banks | An experience like no other awaits you at Shackleford Banks. Complete with pristine beaches and wild horses, your time on the island will be unforgettable. 
  • Dolphin Tours | From the Cape Lookout National Seashore to Shackleford Banks, the dolphin tours near Beaufort are an experience you don’t want to miss! These fascinating sea creatures are some of the region’s most iconic mammals, and a dolphin tour on our coast is the perfect way to get a glimpse of their unique beauty. 
  • North Carolina Maritime MuseumNorth Carolina Maritime Museum | With the perfect combination of educational exhibits and entertainment, your kids won’t even realize they’re learning at the North Caroline Maritime Museum. Whether you have a future marine biologist on your hands or your little one is obsessed with pirates, every kid will find something fascinating here! This museum has artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s famous ship, and there’s even a center that teaches visitors about boat building.  
  • Rachel Carson Reserve | As one of the state’s most precious natural areas, the Rachel Carson Reserve will make a fantastic addition to your Beaufort day trip itinerary. With 2,315-acres of untouched habitat, the reserve is home to many species, including birds, river otters, marsh rabbits, bottlenose dolphins, and sea turtles! 
  • Beaufort NC ClockDowntown Beaufort | There’s plenty of history to enjoy during your visit to Beaufort! This former seaside village is the third oldest in North Carolina and offers some great sightseeing opportunities. Take a stroll along the beautiful tree-lined streets of the downtown district, admire the stunning historic homes, and visit the Beaufort Historic Site. This 12-block, two-acre historic site is home to some of the town’s original buildings, including the Carteret County Courthouse from 1796 and The Old Jail from 1829.  
  • Guided Tours of Beaufort | While some visitors prefer self-guided walking tours, you may like a guided tour of the city. Hungry Town Guided Tours’ offers a Historic Beaufort Walking Tour that runs every day and lasts for about an hour. The tour is appropriate for all ages, so bring the whole family along! 

For the Foodie 

Although Beaufort is a small town, there is plenty of delicious food to enjoy here! It’s the perfect place to visit if you’re craving fresh, locally caught seafood or Southern classics. Check out some of our favorite places to eat in Beaufort, NC! 

  • Aqua Restaurant | Locally sourced ingredients, seasonal fare, and reasonably priced drinks focus at Aqua Restaurant. They offer an array of tapas, small plates, large plates, and desserts. Plus, you’ll find a fantastic selection of daily specials like a $5 featured martini or their WineOrama event. Twice a month, Aqua hosts a wine expert at their restaurant. For just $10, you can sample some wines and maybe find a new favorite! 
  • City Kitchen | Nothing pairs better with fresh seafood than gorgeous oceanfront views! City Kitchen has both in spades. Whether you’re ordering one of their delicious dishes or you’re just enjoying a cocktail at their outdoor Tiki bar, City Kitchen is worth a visit. If possible, try to arrive near sunset so you can watch nature’s most beautiful show! 
  • Front Street Grill at Stillwater | Located in a renovated historic marine boathouse, Front Street Grill has lunch, dinner, and an excellent Sunday brunch. Their menu features Southern classics like shrimp and grits or biscuits and gravy, as well as huevos rancheros, a fried green tomato BLT, and an omelet of the day. No brunch is complete without a delicious Bloody Mary or mimosa! If you only have time to visit once, we suggest you attend their weekly brunch. 
  • clawsons restaurant beaufort, ncClawson’s Restaurant & Pub | If you’ve got a craving for some local seafood and a craft beer, Clawson’s is the destination for you. They offer daily specials as well as their Friday Night Flights beer tasting. On the first Friday of each month, Clawson’s hosts a local brewery. It’s a fantastic chance to sip some delicious North Carolina beers and enjoy some live music. There’s even a chance to win a prize at their raffle! 

For the Shopper 

As you stroll along the town’s waterfront, you might start to feel as though you’ve traveled back in time. Beaufort’s historic downtown area harkens back to an era before chain stores and mass-made souvenirs. Start planning your shopping excursion in downtown Beaufort! 

  • The Old Beaufort Shop | The best place to start browsing is The Old Beaufort Shop! Their inventory of gifts, books, and other fun souvenirs represents the town’s fascinating history. From pirate-themed items to handwoven works, you won’t find a better selection of one-of-a-kind items! beaufort NC shopping
  • Beaufort Olive Oil Company | Discover global flavors in a local business. The Beaufort Olive Oil Company offers high-quality imported olive oils, vinegars, and other provisions that will make a perfect gift for the foodie in your life. If you find something you love, but you don’t feel like bringing it back to Emerald Isle, don’t worry! There’s another storefront in our very own town, just a five-minute drive from the Spinnaker’s Reach neighborhood. 
  • Island Traders | Get in the island mood! Island Traders, located in downtown Beaufort, has all the gear you need for your beach vacation. This fun shop is owned by George Rose, who opened it in 2001. Since then, it’s become a staple for visitors to the area. You’ll find hats, flip-flops, t-shirts, and other fun accessories that echo that small-town charm of Beaufort. Chat with the friendly staff and get some gifts for your loved ones back home. Island Traders carries the perfect souvenirs to remind you of your stay on the Crystal Coast. 
  • Shack Shoppe | Another fantastic gift store in town is the Shack Shoppe! Here, you’ll find plenty of pirate-themed souvenirs and gifts that’ll make you smile, as well as beautiful glassware and art pieces. The kids will enjoy looking at the unique selection of toys and games, and you’ll love finding new decor to add to your home! 
  • Mattie King Davis Art Gallery | Visit the oldest art gallery in Carteret County! Located at the historic Russell House, the Mattie King Davis Art Gallery displays original works by local artists. Each of these beautiful pieces is inspired in some way by the coastline. Every medium is represented here, including oils, watercolors, pottery, glass, jewelry, weavings, and more. Whether you’re looking to purchase one of the gorgeous artworks on display or you’re just admiring them, this is a fantastic place to go during your day in Beaufort. 

For the Socialite 

  • Beaufort Wine & Food Festival | With so many excellent restaurants in town, it’s no wonder that the Beaufort Wine & Food Festival is such a prestigious event! Chefs and winemakers from all over the world come to Beaufort for auctions, seminars, special dinners, and more. Some of the best events include the Historic District Wine Walkabout. Here, you’ll visit four historic homes and dine on a delicious course at each location. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet some of the honored guests of the festival. The Saturday Night Throwdown is another highlight. You’ll enjoy wine, beer, and spirit samples along with featured dishes from restaurants, combined with live music and engaging conversation. The Beaufort Wine & Food Festival takes place every year in late April. 
  • big rock blue marlin tournamentBig Rock Blue Marlin Tournament | Anglers from all over the region flock to Beaufort each year for the long-running Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament! This is one of the most anticipated fishing tournaments along the Crystal Coast, with big prizes and plenty of great parties. Entry fees for the competition typically range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on entry-level. If you’ve not entered the contest, you can enjoy a whole week of fun events. The Captain’s Party is always a blast, with live music and drinks. The Sunday Pig Pickin’ is a must for anyone in the mood for pork. If you’ve never tried downhome cooking, this is an excellent introduction. 
  • Annual Wooden Boat Show | Every year in early May, the North Carolina Maritime Museum hosts the longest-running boat show in the Southeast! The Annual Wooden Boat Show is fun for the whole family, with free sailboat rides, races, a show for kids, and educational seminars.  
  • Beaufort Music Festival | The Beaufort Music Festival has a 30-year history in town, showcasing amazing artists and local breweries. This free two-day concert event has welcomed the Avett Brothers, Margo Price, Robert Rudolph, and the Family Band. You never know what up-and-coming act you’ll see! The festival is in mid-May, so be sure to book your home with Spinnaker’s Reach today!
  • Historic Beaufort Candlelight Homes Tour | Get in the holiday spirit in Beaufort! In early December, the Beaufort Historic Association gives locals and visitors a rare glimpse into a few private historic homes, inns, bed and breakfasts, and churches around town. 

Return to Emerald Isle & Stay With Spinnaker’s Reach 

Are you ready to have the best vacation of your life? These things to do in Beaufort, NC, are just the tip of the iceberg. The Crystal Coast is one of the best family-friendly vacation destinations in the world, and Spinnaker’s Reach has the best selection of properties along the Coast. Each of our homes is in one central neighborhood in town. Our guests can enjoy shared amenities like our pool or clubhouse, as well as the gorgeous stretch of beach along Coast Guard Road. Whether you’re searching for a beautiful oceanfront house or pet-friendly accommodations, you’ll find it on our inventory! 

Browse our available vacation homes and book your stay today! We can’t wait to see what you discover on the Crystal Coast.